Jim Parker: Peter de Savary delivers another giant vote of confidence in Torbay
Peter de Savary could be spending his millions anywhere in the world. In fact, the wealthy and famous entrepreneur has spent a lifetime doing just that, financing all sorts of leisure and other projects in exotic locations around the globe.
He once owned Land’s End and John O’Groats. Even closer to home the luxury Bovey Castle on the edge of Dartmoor was once his. He still has interests around the world and owns the odd shipyard or two.
He even once stood in a general election as a Referendum Party candidate and is an accomplished sailor.
Perhaps that is why some of his fortunes in recent years have been spent on the Cary Arms, the idyllic spot and little hamlet brushed gloriously by the waves of Babbacombe Bay.
Mr de Savary – PDS to friends – simply adores, Babbacombe, Torbay and the West Country. In the past 11 years or so he has spent around £12 million on renovating, refurbishing and adding a touch of luxury to the Cary Arms and surrounding grounds and other properties. There is no hidden agenda to alienate the locals here and make what is now virtually a Cary Arms resort exclusively for the rich. Look inside the Inn, on the pier and on the beach where you will still find the locals for proof of that.
PDS says: “I grew up and have had a home in the West Country since I was 11 when my father moved down to the West Country. I am 76, so that is 65 years. I am completely rooted in the West Country.”
He adds: “I think I was living at Chagford when somebody mentioned there was a hamlet for sale at Babbacombe.
“When I saw the location, I thought we could so something really special not on a grand, large scale but in a tasteful and subtle way.
“It could punch well above its weight and could be an appropriate totem pole for the Torbay area, something a little special, a little quirky. It has turned out to be just that. I love it. The guests love it.”
When the de Savary team first arrived in 2009 the first job was to totally refurbish the Cary Arms Inn and its surrounding grounds.
A scheme to build so-called beach huts – the word ‘luxury’ wouldn’t go anywhere near doing them justice with some of the best views in the world - and spa followed.
Six hillside properties have also been transformed into holiday cottages. And now the de Savary team has just taken the wraps off their latest £3 million development – seven scintillating properties known simply as Seaview Cottages with those same breath-taking vistas. Three of the cottages – with an asking price of around £850,000 each - have been snapped up before they go on the market.
PDS says: “When I embarked on the project, we had great expectations and very positive anticipations about what it would like when it was finished. In a strange way I doubted myself but when I see it finished it has exceeded my expectations and anticipations.
“I hope that local people think this is something new, something different but blends in well and it looks good. I think people will enjoy living here.”
He says that when investing in a tourism business you are looking at two things to be successful - you have to create an appropriate product for a suitable market and be confident there is a market for your product. You must also have the right destination.
“You have to sell your product and the destination,” he says. The Cary Arms fits the bill on both counts.
He has praised the local workforce, saying: “I am really proud of the entirely local workforce, the local engineers, everything has been done locally.”
Is that it for PDS and the Cary Arms? Nope – next up is a £2million redevelopment plan for the beach car park.
What a massive vote of confidence in the Bay.